Update 517


Before You Speak…

On November 26, 2011, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Before You Speak…”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Our Calling

by Dave Harris

Jesus Christ was rejected by His nation, by those who were leaders of religion in Judah and even, at first, by His own family. However, there were some whom He chose who came to know that He was indeed the Son of God and Savior of the world!
Consider who actually is able to understand this truth:
“At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight’” (Matthew 11:25-26; compare 1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
As it was in the time of Christ, so it is now—Jesus Christ is being denied and spurned! While nominal Christians appropriate His name, almost none of them are willing to obey Him.
In answer to those who falsely assume that they are Christians, Jesus stated:
“‘And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”’” (Matthew 7:23).
Our calling is one that is intimately and inextricably bound up in obedience to the marvelous laws of God. In fact, the Word of God reveals that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16), and it further states concerning those who desire to love the Father and His Son:
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Who then really does accept and believe in Jesus Christ? Who can truly say that they know God? Can you—because you are now living a life of obedience to God? Are you rejecting this world and its false god along with deceiving ministers who practice lawlessness? Are you growing in the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit, and are you becoming more and more like Jesus Christ (compare 2 Peter 3:18)?
While we should all be firmly grounded in our calling, we, nonetheless, must remain vigilant. Just how thankful are we to be among the precious few who have been called by God Himself to be in the first resurrection—the “better resurrection”—as firstfruits in the Family of God?

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We begin with reporting on the volatile and chaotic situation both in Libya—including the capture of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi—and in Egypt, Yemen and Syria. Powerful forces in some of those countries seem to end the optimistic and unrealistic pipe dreams of democratic developments, while the West still thinks that in some of the other countries, reason might prevail. However, an interesting article in the EUobserver suggests that Europe should get actively involved in the Middle East, to prevent China from doing so, since there is no hope that the USA would be interested, and now talks have surfaced of a military intervention in Syria.

Turning to Europe’s ongoing debt crisis and Spain’s troubles, former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer reveals a plan as to how Europe could emerge from the ashes, which would demand political institutions with strong decision-making powers and which would exclude Great Britain. We are also focusing on the ongoing battle between the British and German media and some politicians, and the fact that the relationship between Germany and Canada seems to deteriorate. In this light, the sudden re-emergence of former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is interesting.

We are reporting on the pope’s visit in Africa and his insistence of prayers to the “Virgin Mary,” relate an embarrassing incident, involving President Obama’s visit in Australia, speak about the predictable utter failure of the US “super committee,” and point at a report in the New York Times, suggesting that churches might be exempt from certain provisions of the Obamacare health care law—which exemptions seem to anger many Democrats. Nancy Pelosi, for example, stated that even though she was a devout Catholic, she could not understand “the conscience thing” of Catholics regarding contraceptives.

We conclude with a find of skeletons which scientists cannot explain.

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Libya’s Ongoing Chaos

Deutsche Welle wrote on November 17:

“Revolutionary military councils have been engaging in skirmishes as retribution killings against alleged Gadhafi loyalists jeopardize the reconciliation process… Human Rights Watch (HRW) has gathered mounting evidence of human rights abuses committed by forces associated with the National Transitional Council (NTC). Militias from the northwestern coastal city of Misrata… have arbitrarily killed and detained residents and burnt homes in the now abandoned town of Tawergha, according to HRW.

“Many Tawergha residents fought for Gadhafi during Libya’s civil war. And in Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, where the Libyan dictator was captured and killed, HRW reported finding the bodies of 53 regime loyalists who had apparently been summarily executed at the hands of revolutionary forces allied with the NTC. Attacks have also reportedly occurred against black-skinned Africans accused of having fought for Gadhafi as mercenaries…

“As the NTC struggles to guide Libya through a volatile transition, massive unsecured weapons stockpiles – left over from Gadhafi’s arsenal – pour more fuel on the country’s already explosive political situation. Acquired over a period of decades from nations that range from Spain to North Korea, Gadhafi’s massive arsenal includes everything from small arms to surface-to-air missiles and explosives. Libya ranked for years as the country with the most weapons per soldier in the world…”

The Capture of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi

Haaretz and Reuters reported on November 19:

“Muammar Gadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam has been captured… in the Libyan desert by… Zintan fighters, who make up one of the powerful militia factions holding ultimate power in a country still without a government… The European Union urged Libyan authorities to ensure Saif al-Islam was brought to justice in cooperation with the ICC [International Criminal Court]… Libyans believe Saif al-Islam holds the keys in his head to billions of dollars of public money amassed by the Gadhafi family…

“Memories are still fresh of the days Gadhafi’s father’s corpse spent rotting and on public view in the city of Misrata, another rebel stronghold, as its militia leaders trumpeted their capture of the fallen leader as part of their campaign to extract power and patronage from the new interim government…

“‘I’m really surprised that Saif al-Islam has not met the same fate as his father and his brother,’ Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, told BBC TV. ‘The best thing that the new leadership can do is to hand Saif al-Islam to the International Criminal Court because I don’t believe it really has the resources and the means to try Saif al-Islam and give him a fair trial.’ Asked of the chances of that, he said ‘Almost zero.’ He said he expected him to get the death penalty and be executed in Libya. ‘This is unfortunate for the new Libya,’ he said.”

USA Today wrote on November 20:

“Moammar Gadhafi’s son and one-time heir apparent will be tried in Libya and not handed over to the International Criminal Court even though the country’s new rulers have yet to set up a justice system, the information minister said on Sunday… Human Rights Watch called for Seif al-Islam to be promptly turned over to the International Criminal Court in a statement, citing the apparent killings in custody of his father and brother Muatassim on Oct. 20 as ‘particular cause for concern.’”

The New York Times added on November 20:

“Militia fighters holding Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, the last fugitive son and onetime heir apparent of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, added conditions on Sunday to the handover of their prisoner to the fledgling government, a new challenge to the authority of Prime Minister Abdel Rahim el-Keeb… But [el-Qaddafi] has now become a bargaining chip for the militia forces in Zintan, who are angling for cabinet seats as the government is formed.

“Zintan’s leaders originally said they would release Mr. Qaddafi to the interim government once Mr. Keeb formed the new cabinet, which is expected soon.  On Sunday, however, they said that they also needed guarantees that the government had installed a working court system, which could take months, before they would hand him over…

“The reluctance among the various factions to cede authority threatens the interim government even before it is fully formed. Militias, city councils and tribes are all demanding representation and are seeking ways to gain an upper hand in the government…”

How the West Courted Said al-Islam Gaddafi

The Daily Mail wrote on November 19:

“Said al-Islam Gaddafi… acted as an envoy for his father’s regime, and in 2002 and 2003 helped broker the agreement that saw Libya renounce its weapons of mass destruction program… He lobbied militants to release hostages, funded research at the London School of Economics, welcomed world leaders and Western intellectuals to his country and portrayed himself as a champion of economic and social reforms…

“In 2009, he aided talks in Britain that eventually secured the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. A 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable released by the website WikiLeaks said… ‘many Libyans view him as self-aggrandizing and too eager to please foreigners at the expense of Libyans’ interest.’”

Deutsche Welle added on November 20:

“While studying in Vienna, he was friends with the late right-wing populist Austrian politician Jörg Haider. This did not seem to put off influential British figures such as the Labour party grandee Lord Peter Mandelson and the financier Nathaniel Rothschild. According to the Guardian, they were believed to have maintained their contacts with the Libyan.

“As a 25-year-old, Seif al-Islam founded the Gadhafi International Foundation for Charity Associations… In 2004, the foundation agreed to pay $35 million in compensation for the bombing of the La Belle discotheque in Berlin in 1986, which killed three people and left more than 200 injured… In 2008, five Bulgarian nurses and a doctor of Palestinian origin were freed from a Libyan prison after spending eight years in custody. Seif al-Islam admitted in public that the five had been tortured and forced to write a confession that they had deliberately infected hundreds of patients with the HIV virus. Seif al-Islam was praised by Western media for his openness over the issue.”

According to other news reports, Said al-Islam Gaddafi was also a friend of Tony Blair and a repeated guest at Buckingham Palace. It is interesting to see how the West is now turning their back on him, in their desire to please the evolving controversial new powers in Libya.

Civil War in Libya

The Independent wrote on November 24:

“The detention of 7,000 people in prisons and camps by the anti-Gaddafi forces is not surprising. The conflict in Libya was always much more of a civil war between Libyans than foreign governments pretended or the foreign media reported. The winning anti-Gaddafi militia are not proving merciful… Gaddafi supporters are being hunted down…

“The National Transitional Council, whose control is largely theoretical, is not in a position to stop this purge because many of its members are themselves frightened of being accused of links with the old regime.

“The international media was overwhelmingly hostile to Gaddafi’s regime and tended to highlight atrocities committed by it and disregard or underplay human rights violations carried out by his opponents… The purge of Gaddafi supporters is made more dangerous by the infighting between the militias, and between them and the politicians. Association with the old regime can be used to discredit an opponent. There may also be self-interest since death squads are reported to be taking their property.”

Violent Demonstrations in Egypt Continue

Al Arabiya wrote on November 18:

“Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians rallied Friday in Cairo’s Tahrir square with Islamists in the forefront to protest against what they say are attempts by the country’s military rulers to designate themselves as the guardians of a new Egypt. It was one of the largest rallies in Egypt in recent months… Friday’s rally was dominated by the country’s most organized political group, the Muslim Brotherhood…

“Delivering the Muslim prayer sermon, imam Mazhar Shahin urged protesters to keep defending the goals of the revolution… ‘Those who fear Islamist movements in Egypt, I tell them don’t be scared of Islam in Egypt,’ Shahin said… ‘Egypt is Islamic, like it or not…’”

The New York Times added on November 20:

“A police action to roust a few hundred protesters out of Tahrir Square on Saturday instead drew thousands of people from across Egyptian society into the streets, where the violence continued on Sunday. The confrontations were the most violent manifestation so far of growing anger at the military-led interim government. In a battle reminiscent of the clashes that led to the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak nine months ago, a mass of protesters converged on Tahrir Square, fled before an onslaught of riot police officers firing tear gas and rubber bullets, and then surged back to retake and hold the square through the early hours of Sunday…

“Coming a day after a huge Islamist demonstration and just more than a week before the first post-Mubarak parliamentary elections, the outpouring of anger was the strongest rebuke yet with the military’s attempts to grant itself permanent governmental powers. And it was a reuniting of Islamist and liberal protest movements that had drifted apart since the early days of the uprising. This time, instead of chanting for the fall of Mr. Mubarak, the demonstrators were chanting for the fall of the ruling military council that initially presented itself as the revolution’s savior…

“After pledging to turn over power to civilians by September, the military has postponed the handover until after the ratification of a constitution and election of a president, sometime in 2013 or later. Then this month the military-led government put in writing a set of ground rules for a next constitution that would have given the military authority to intervene in civilian politics while protecting it from civilian oversight — setting off a firestorm… Opposition to those guidelines brought the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group, back to the streets…”

Newsmax wrote on November 23:

“The Egyptian military has been using a banned chemical agent to deal with hundreds of thousands of protesters, according to several news sources. At least 23 Egyptians have died and more than 1,700 have succumbed to a lethal gas military forces have been using during the past three days in clashes in and around Cairo’s Tahrir Square…  Australia’s The Age said Wednesday that the canisters are marked ‘Made in the USA’… The Australian paper continued: ‘A young man was rushed into the clinic, unconscious and fitting, as the doctor spoke. For at least five minutes it was touch and go as medics administered treatment. Finally he drew breath and the team moved to one of the four patients who had just been carried in, a man with gunshot wound to a leg.’”

Deutsche Welle added on November 23:

“Protesters continued to do battle with security forces in Cairo on Wednesday, despite the ruling military authority’s pledge to speed up the transfer to democratic rule. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called for an independent probe into the killing of demonstrators by Egyptian security forces. At least 38 people have been killed in the clashes in recent days…

“Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on Tuesday agreed to the formation of a national salvation government and to hand power to a civilian authority by July, instead of late 2012 or early 2013, as originally planned. But the concessions failed to convince thousands of people gathered in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square, who demanded an immediate end to military rule… Egypt’s ruling military council is facing its worst crisis since it stepped in to replace Mubarak in February. With little success, it has been trying to contain the growing protests with violence.

“The United States, meanwhile, is losing its patience with Egypt’s military rulers. The Obama administration ratcheted up its criticism on Tuesday, blaming the military for the new wave of violence… Germany called on Wednesday for an end to political violence, with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman saying Egypt’s military rulers needed to pay attention to the protesters’ demands…”

The New York Times wrote on November 24:

“Egyptian generals offered an unusual apology on Thursday for the killings of protesters in Tahrir Square, the iconic landmark of the country’s revolution, but rejected the demonstrators’ demands for an immediate end to military rule.  As violence around the square eased after five days of intense clashes, the military also insisted that parliamentary elections, scheduled for next Monday, would proceed as planned… A semblance of calm returned to Tahrir Square on Thursday morning after a night of some of the worst clashes since the protests began.”

Yemen’s President Resigns

The Wall Street Journal wrote on November 24:

“President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen agreed to step down on Wednesday after 33 years in power, becoming the fourth Arab leader swept away by protests this year and launching his violence-wracked country into a new era of uncertainty…

“The president… made a surprise trip to Saudi Arabia, where he signed off on a deal to transfer power to Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi within 30 days. The agreement calls for a new president to be elected within three months and would hand significant power to opposition parties …

“Yemen has been ravaged by violence and lawlessness in recent months, as forces opposed to Mr. Saleh fought battles against his allies in the streets of the capital. Amid the chaos, militant Islamist groups, including some sympathetic with al Qaeda, have expanded their sway in the south of the country… The poorest country in the Arab world, Yemen nonetheless sits in a strategically critical location at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, where one-fifth of the world’s oil exports transit to world markets.”

EU Engagement in the Middle East

On November 18, the EUobserver published the following opinion by Anno Bunnik, a political analyst from the Netherlands:

“One of the most striking elements of the outside involvement in the Arab Spring is the failure of the Obama administration to develop a comprehensive approach in dealing with the uprisings. The United States is unable to truly champion freedom and democracy, largely due to its close relations with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. This provides opportunities for other actors – such as the European Union or China – to upgrade its engagement with the region… When speaking to Arab friends – both Muslims and Christians – about the role of the US, the usual reply is ‘double standards’ often followed by the remark that Obama is no different from Bush… Even in Arab states aligned to the US, a large majority of the population does not agree with current American policies…

“These developments create space for other actors to engage in the region. This void could in the long run be occupied by China, possibly endangering the potential for democracy to flourish. But it could also be filled by the EU building strategic ties with the new Middle East. The EU’s reputation in the Middle East is not tainted by unquestioned support for Israel. Unlike the US, the EU is able to stand for peace and justice, freedom and democracy… Due to its relatively clean reputation, the EU could dare to step out of the shadow of the US and develop its own comprehensive approach to the region…

“This approach could entail capturing the role of ‘honest broker’ in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, mediating between both parties. After all, the EU can pride itself with longstanding experience in extensive and successful post-conflict resolution. It should transcend its usual shyness when dealing with conflict resolution in the Middle East and try to find new paths to facilitate diplomacy…

“Furthermore, good relations between Europe and the Middle East on the political front will likely also have economic ramifications… If the EU manages to develop and implement such a strategic approach it will not only protect the region from greater Chinese influence in the long run, but also give meaning to its own international ambitions. The Arab Spring therefore provides the ideal opportunity for the EU to maintain an important player in world politics.”

It is prophesied that the EU WILL play an important role in the Middle East. However, the world will be shocked to learn that in the end, the emerging United States of Europe will choose war, not peace, perhaps with the justification that it wants to create peace that way in the region. This, in turn, will bring about a world war of unknown proportions, involving far eastern countries such as China and Russia. Please also note the next article.

Military Intervention in Syria?

The Euobserver wrote on November 23:

“In a direct echo of previous events in Libya, France has formally recognized the opposition Syrian National Council and proposed that international troops should protect civilians… Previously cited obstacles to military action in Syria were the lack of a UN mandate, lack of Arab support for outside intervention and tactical problems. But the obstacles are beginning to melt away…

“For his part, former French air force chief Jean Rannou earlier told this website: ‘I don’t see any purely military problems [for intervention]. Syria has no defence against Western systems.’  In a sign the EU is keen to stimulate an end-game in Syria, diplomats this week also agreed to drastically ramp up economic sanctions.”

“How the EU Can Emerge from the Ashes”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 18 about the future of Europe. Although much of what is being written in that lengthy article is a critique of Angela Merkel’s policy and tantamount to uninformed nonsense, the following excerpts are quite interesting:

“… many in Europe think there is now a clear path to a new, more integrated — and smaller – bloc…

“To stabilize the continent in crisis [Joschka] Fischer, an avid European, wants to see a resolute political body consisting of the leaders of euro-zone countries. They should, he believes, be outfitted with far-reaching authority and granted sufficient power by their parliaments back home…

“History, in other words, could be written in Germany. For the sake of the United States of Europe, the strongest European country would have to reinvent itself. There is no way around the fact that the European countries will have to sacrifice some of their sovereign power — and a share of their identities… ‘Those who want Europe should finally say where they want to go,’ says former Foreign Minister Fischer…

“There is no doubt that a European federal state would go far beyond the present Europe of the Lisbon Treaty. The Brussels technocracy would have to be replaced with political institutions with strong decision-making powers and extensive competencies to shape economic and social policy for all of Europe… Fischer… sees 27 parties as being too unwieldy, but would like to see the 17 leaders of the euro-zone countries move forward, as they have in establishing the euro backstop fund. In short, Fischer wants to turn the Euro Group into a new European government. As a fiscal and economic government, the 17 would assume joint control over their nations… 

“The old idea of a ‘solid core,’ which becomes more and more solid over time, was lost in the days of expansion euphoria… Now there are many in Berlin who hope that the idea of a ‘core Europe’ will bring about accelerated integration and an important simplification of intergovernmental cooperation. Everyone agrees on the charm of the solution: The grumblers from Britain would finally be left out in the cold, and a United Europe could simply dismiss them should they oppose any further integration. ‘They’ll be hopping mad,’ says Fischer, ‘but then they won’t be able to cause trouble anymore, either.’

“The Germans, however, have another problem with an overly exclusive club of the euro avant-garde. What happens to Poland? Germany’s eastern neighbor would not be involved, at least not in a solution restricted to the Euro Group… Poland has so far been firmly on Merkel’s side in the euro crisis. The ambitious Poles, a majority of whom are enthusiastic about the euro, value the prospect of making their own contribution to Europe’s future.

“Still, it is France which could prove to be the greatest problem when it comes to building a core Europe. Europe is inconceivable without France… There are political thinkers in France who agree with Fischer…[but] the sovereignists are traditionally strong. They are in favor of Europe, but only as a means of expanding French self-aggrandizement, not as a way of limiting it…”

Some of these ideas are quite interesting. The Bible shows that a core Europe of ten nations or groups of nations will develop out of the Eurozone, and while Germany, Italy and France will definitely be part of it, and so might be Poland, England won’t be.

War of Words Between Germany and Britain Escalates

The Daily Mail wrote on November 19:

“Germany last night declared that Britain would be forced to scrap the pound and join the euro – as David Cameron returned home empty-handed from crisis talks in Berlin. In a highly-provocative intervention, German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble suggested the UK’s struggling economy meant the pound was doomed, and urged the Prime Minister to back Europe’s ailing single currency.

“Mr Schauble said the euro would emerge stronger from the current crisis – leaving Britain on the sidelines unless it signed up. He said Britain would be forced to join ‘faster than some people on the British island think’ – despite a pledge by Mr Cameron never to do so…

“Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the powerful Euro Group of eurozone finance ministers, said Britain was in no position to comment on the crisis as its deficit was twice the European average… Schauble’s comments came as Mr Cameron arrived to a hostile reception in Berlin for talks on the eurozone crisis with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Senior members of Mrs Merkel’s ruling coalition voiced their irritation at London’s ‘lecturing’ over the crisis. Leading German magazine Der Spiegel ran a prominent feature describing Britain as the ‘diseased empire’. And Rainer Brüderle, head of Mrs Merkel’s coalition partners, said: ‘Britain can’t be freeloaders in the eurozone.’

“The deputy leader of Mrs Merkel’s party, Michael Meister, criticised Britain for lecturing the eurozone on what steps it should take while not actively contributing towards a solution. He also warned Mr Cameron against catering to nationalist sentiment on the euro, saying turmoil in the single currency area could have a devastating impact on countries outside the eurozone and on London’s financial industry… Former prime minister Sir John Major last night spoke out about the ‘undemocratic’ drive towards greater fiscal union in the eurozone.

“Germany’s press… has hardly been the best of friends with Mrs Merkel of late, but it is firmly on her side when it comes to dealing with the ‘old enemy’. Bild carried the headlines ‘Briten zittern vor Deutschlands Euro-Plänen’ – ‘Britons tremble before Germany’s euro plans’ – and ‘Europa spricht deutsch, Herr Cameron! Was wollen die Engländer eigentlich noch in der EU?’ – ‘Europe speaks German, Mr Cameron! What do the English actually want in the European Union?’

“Financial Times Deutschland wrote: ‘He wants Britain to have a say in the financial crisis, but he doesn’t want his country to have to pay for it. He wants to prevent a core Europe (of Germany and France) from forming, but at the same time he is unwilling to contribute to deeper European integration. Great Britain is lacking a constructive approach. That’s why the government in London shouldn’t be surprised that it is hearing an increasing number of European countries sigh words like: Things would be a lot easier if we didn’t have the Brits.’”

The Express added on November 19:

“In a chilling threat to UK sovereignty, German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble predicted that all Europe would one day use the single currency… His sinister warning followed the emergence of a secret German plan to build a powerful new economic government for the eurozone and block an EU referendum in Britain… In a further sign of growing German supremacy within the EU, David Cameron was yesterday rebuffed by Chancellor Angela Merkel in talks over how to tackle the euro crisis.

“Last night British opponents of the EU were horrified by the bellicose threat to Britain’s economic independence… UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said: ‘This German bullying is deeply unpleasant and the sooner we leave the EU the better’…  Last night a YouGov poll for Prospect magazine showed 51 per cent of Britons would vote to leave the EU in a referendum while only 32 per cent would vote to stay in.”

Canadian-German Relationship Turning Bad

Deutsche Welle reported on November 24:

“Canada and Germany have a lot [in] common. Both countries pride themselves on being good members of the international community… Particularly in the security arena German-Canadian relations have traditionally been strong. For decades Canada operated military bases in southern Germany until they were closed in the 1990s. Due to their multilateralist approach to foreign and security policy, both often joined forces to soften or balance out unilateral tendencies their bigger ally, the US, might display.

“For instance, it was a joint project by Ottawa and Berlin to bring NATO into Afghanistan, explains Janice Stein, director of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. ‘So I think it’s fair to say that under those circumstances there was some Canadian chagrin about the caveats that Germany put around where its troops could be used and how they could be used and deployed in Afghanistan,’ she told Deutsche Welle…

 “When it seemed that Canada might be ready to shelve its misgivings about Germany’s perceived reluctance to contribute its fair share in Afghanistan, Berlin’s image suffered another blow. In March, Germany decided not to side with its traditional allies, France, Britain and the US and instead abstain in a UN Security Council vote on a no-fly zone in Libya alongside China, Russia, India and Brazil. This baffled many Canadians. And again there was a special Canadian connection that made Berlin’s behavior even more inexplicable to Ottawa than it might have been for many other partners.

“While Germany stood on the sidelines, Canada’s parliament overwhelmingly approved the mission and deployed some 600 airforce and navy personnel for the operation. Its airforce conducted roughly 10 percent of the bombing raids against Moammar Gadhafi’s troops. The country’s important international role was underscored by the appointment of a Canadian general to lead NATO’s mission in Libya…

“‘Libya has only highlighted the already existing disillusionment on the Canadian side with some of the decisions that come out of Germany,’  Petra Dolata, a Canada specialist at King’s College in London, told Deutsche Welle… She believes that it would be a mistake to consider Canada’s befuddlement simply as a minor hiccup in the relations between both countries. Instead she insists that Canada’s consternation with Berlin runs deeper…

“For many Canadians it is very difficult to comprehend the role of the military in the German context, says Dolata… ‘I think it’s even worse than that. I think that Canadians are no longer looking toward Germany even if they engage themselves with Europe. And if they do look toward Europe it’s no longer Germany or even France, it’s actually the UK that presents itself as the best partner.’”

This is very interesting, as the Bible shows that in the end time, the once friendly relationship between Germany and continental Europe on the one hand, and the USA, Canada and Great Britain on the other hand, will become more and more hostile.

Germany in Trouble… Or Not?

BBC News reported on November 24:

“German business sentiment unexpectedly rose in November for the first time since June, according to an Ifo survey. The influential think tank’s business climate index, based on a monthly survey of 7,000 companies, edged up to 106.6 from October’s figure of 106.4.

“The figures provided some relief following Wednesday’s German government bond auction, which did not sell out. An Ifo economist said the figures suggested Germany will avoid recession this winter… Also on Thursday, the Federal Statistics Office left its first estimate of economic growth unrevised at 0.5% between July and September…”

One should be careful with jumping on spectacular articles and headlines, such as the following one, published by the EUobserver on November 23, “Germany had significant trouble offloading its bonds on Thursday in a sign that the eurozone crisis has spread to the very heart of Europe.” The fact is, Germany is the strongest economy in Europe, and temporary set-backs won’t change that. In fact, they may lead to interesting developments, as BBC News reported on November 24: “Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy are to propose modifications to EU treaties to improve governance of the Eurozone… The meeting followed a German bond auction on Wednesday, which failed to raise the target amount.”

Spain’s Troubles

Reuters wrote on November 20:

“Spain’s center-right opposition stormed to a crushing election victory Sunday as voters punished the outgoing Socialist government for the worst economic crisis in generations. The People’s Party, led by former Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy, won an absolute majority in parliament and is expected to push through drastic measures to try to prevent Spain being sucked deeper into a debt storm threatening the whole euro zone… With 5 million people out of work, the European Union’s highest jobless rate, Spain is heading into its second recession in four years. Spaniards, who voted in pouring rain Sunday, were the fifth European nation to throw out their leaders because of the spreading euro zone crisis, following Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Italy. The PP won the biggest majority for any party in three decades…

“Rajoy’s bitter medicine for the economy will probably make things worse before they get better. But he has said Spaniards are prepared for the painful austerity that is needed to reduce a swollen public deficit threatening to push the euro zone’s fourth economy toward a perilous bail-out. ‘I ask you all to keep helping me. Difficult times are coming,’ Rajoy, 56, told ecstatic supporters in his victory speech at PP headquarters. ‘Spain’s voice must be respected again in Brussels and Frankfurt… We will stop being part of the problem and will be part of the solution.’”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 21:

“Not since the death of dictator Francisco Franco exactly 36 years ago has a Spanish prime minister and his party possessed as much power as Rajoy and the Popular Party does now…

“The new strong man in Spain is anything but a charismatic man of action, however. Rajoy, a notary from the northwestern region of Galicia, has a reputation as someone who prefers to wait out problems rather than tackling them. By waiting patiently, he survived the party infighting which followed his election defeats by Zapatero in 2004 and 2008…

“The plan is for the new parliament to meet for the first time in Madrid on Dec. 13, with King Juan Carlos swearing in Rajoy and his government before Christmas… Rajoy… is impressed by the austerity course of his fellow conservative, German Chancellor Angela Merkel…”

Guttenberg Is Back

M&C reported on November 19:

“Eight months after a plagiarism scandal stripped him of his doctorate and his job, disgraced former German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg stepped back into the spotlight Saturday in Canada at an international security conference. Sporting a new look, without his trademark glasses and slicked-back hair, Guttenberg joined a roundtable discussion at the Halifax International Security Forum, where he was on the programme two years ago as Germany’s defence minister. Today’s programme listed him – without his former ‘Doctor’ title – as a ‘distinguished statesman’ with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

“The aristocratic Guttenberg has been living with his family outside New York City in recent months, and he said he liked the distance it affords him to his former life… But he had plenty to say in the one-and-a-quarter hour discussion about the way his former colleagues are handling Europe’s financial crisis. ‘This isn’t a euro crisis or a debt crisis,’ he told 300 attendees, ‘this is a crisis of understanding and a crisis of political leadership.’

“Guttenberg was forced to resign his post in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet in March after a law professor noticed he had plagiarized large parts of his 2006 doctoral thesis for the University of Bayreuth. German prosecutors are expected to decide soon whether or not to charge him with violations of copyright law.”

The Local added on November 20:

“Karl-Theodor zu Gutenberg, Germany’s former defence minister who resigned in March after being found to have plagiarised his doctoral thesis, has returned to the political stage with a scathing attack on his former colleagues. Speaking on Saturday at a security conference in Halifax, Canada, Guttenberg took aim at Germans in general and politicians in particular… ‘The Germans have no idea how the European Union functions, how it came to this crisis and what it means. The politicians do not reach the public, they do not reach the people.’’

The German press had a field day with Freiherr zu Guttenberg’s resurgence from political limbo. On November 19, mass tabloid Bild Online quoted Guttenberg as stating: “There is a lack of political leaders in Europe.” The left-liberal magazine, Der Spiegel Online, wrote on November 19: “One has to reckon with the CSU-man in the future… It is clear that he thinks he is still the man for the job… Being 39 years old, he has plenty of time to return to the political stage… His appearance in Halifax was almost certainly only the first step of his operation comeback.” The conservative magazine, Focus, wrote on November 19: “Once again, Guttenberg knows everything better… In Halifax he did what he knows to do best—talking… He does not fear for the EU. ‘It will survive, but enthusiasm is lacking’… Are we witnessing Guttenberg’s big comeback? [A leader in the ] CSU wants to keep the door open for him in respect to the parliamentary elections in 2013.” 

On November 23, 2011, Der Stern reported that the prosecutors dismissed the criminal case against multi-millionaire Guttenberg after he paid a fine of 20,000 euros, which was labeled as a donation to charity. This means, Guttenberg will not be convicted of any crime. In an interview with Die Zeit, he did not rule out a return to Germany and a participation in the 2013 parliamentary elections.

Russia and the West—Stormy Weather Ahead

CNN reported on November 23:

“It feels like a blast from the past: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatening to station short-range missiles in Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Poland. Medvedev is miffed that the West is not taking Russia’s concerns into consideration as it proceeds with plans to deploy a missile defense system in Europe that the United States and NATO insist is to protect from potential missile attack from Iran.

“They even say they want Russia to work with them on the system but, in a live television broadcast, Medvedev told Russians: ‘We will not agree to take part in a program that, in a short while, in some six to eight years’ time, could weaken our nuclear deterrent capability.’

“Russia, the president announced somberly, could deploy weapons ‘ensuring our ability to take out any part of the U.S. missile defense system in Europe. One step in this process will be to deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad Region.’ And he went a step further, threatening to pull out of the New START arms control agreement, which he and President Barack Obama signed with such fanfare just a year and a half ago… The reset may not be over but it could be headed for some stormy weather…”

In another disturbing development, AFP reported on November 23 that “Prime Minister Putin warned Wednesday in advance of parliamentary elections that Russia faced numerous risks in the future that demanded that the government tighten its grip on power.”

Prayers to the “Virgin Mary”?

The Vatican information Service (VIS) reported on November 19 about the Pope’s recent visit to Africa:

“This afternoon, the Holy Father travelled by popemobile to the cathedral of Our Lady of Mercy in Cotonou, [saying:] ‘… The Virgin Mary…  is the Mother of Mercy… she has received the privilege of being our helper always and everywhere. … In Mary, we have not only a model of perfection, but also one who helps us to realise communion with God and with our brothers and sisters. As Mother of Mercy, she is a sure guide to the disciples of her Son who wish to be of service to justice, to reconciliation and to peace. … Let us not be afraid to invoke her with confidence, she who ceaselessly dispenses to her children abundant divine graces’… 

“Benedict XVI then prayed to Our Lady to intercede to obtain peace for child victims of hunger and war, for the sick and the afflicted, for sinners, for Africa and for all humankind.”

Mary is also commonly referred to in the Catholic Church as the “queen of heaven.” However, the Bible teaches clearly that the real Mary died and is sleeping the unconscious “sleep” of death. She is waiting for the resurrection from the dead, when Jesus Christ returns. She is not in heaven, nor is she capable of mediating for us in any way. Prayers to her are meaningless. There is only ONE Mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master. However, the Bible warns against worshipping or adoring a pagan personage who is referred to as the Queen of Heaven (compare Jeremiah 7:18).

Ridiculous Embarrassment

USA Today reported on November 20:

“We’ve heard of gutter politics, but this is ridiculous. Officials in Australia are investigating how a top-secret, detailed report on President Obama’s recent trip Down Under wound up in a gutter near the Parliament building in Canberra. The 125-page booklet contains phone number and contact details for government officials from both Australia and the United States. It also contains the step-by-step movements of Obama during last week’s visits for Canberra and Darwin — obviously valuable information for anyone wishing to do harm to the president…

“Most of the manual was devoted to a minute-by-minute schedule of Obama’s movements during his 27-hour visit to Canberra and Darwin last week, even detailing which car door he would use and the seating arrangements within his convoys. It also ran through the exact breakdown of his Secret Service detail and motorcade arrangements, including Obama’s ambulance, counterassault teams, communications and intelligence, according to the journalist, Dylan Welch. The booklet cover stated that the information was ‘not to be communicated either directly or indirectly to any person not authorised to receive it,’ Welch said, and it included contact details for a range of figures. It also named a long-serving member responsible for Obama’s protection. Welch claimed to have found it in a gutter 100 metres from Parliament House on early Thursday…”

The Predictable Failure of the US “Super Committee”

USA Today wrote on November 22:

“Sad. Pathetic. Indefensible. It’s hard to pick just one word to capture the collapse of Congress’ latest effort to deal with the spiraling national debt. Not only did the inaptly named ‘supercommittee’ fail to reach a big agreement to get the debt under control, members proved incapable even of meeting the panel’s minimum goal of cutting $1.2 trillion in deficits over 10 years. That sounds like a lot of money, but it’s less than 3% of the roughly $46 trillion the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal government will spend from 2012 to 2021. What financially strapped household or business can’t figure out a way to save three cents of every dollar it spends?

“The supercommittee’s failure brings the nation one step closer to a European-style debt crisis of rising interest rates and lower living standards… One reason is political polarization. The parties have made so many promises to their bases — on taxes, on entitlements — that compromise is seen as a sellout and shared sacrifice as unmentionable. Many members of Congress face more political risk from the wings of their own parties than from the other party. With elections coming up next year, they’d rather have the issue than a deal…”

Religious Exemptions from Obamacare?

The New York Times wrote on November 19:

“A dispute has erupted between President Obama and Democrats in Congress over a proposal to broaden the exemption from new rules that require health insurance plans to cover contraceptives for women free of charge… after protests by Roman Catholic bishops, charities, schools and universities, the White House is considering… [to] grant a broad exemption to health plans sponsored by employers who object to such coverage for moral and religious reasons. Churches may already qualify for an exemption.

“The proposal being weighed by the White House would expand the exemption to many universities, hospitals, clinics and other entities associated with religious organizations.  The prospect of such a change has infuriated many Democrats in Congress, who fought hard to secure coverage of birth control under the new health care law… House members have sent a letter to Mr. Obama urging him not to widen the exemption. Such a change, they said, would keep contraception out of reach for millions of women…

“The rules already include an exemption for certain ‘religious employers,’ but the exemption is so narrow that some church groups say it is almost meaningless. A religious employer cannot qualify for the exemption if it employs or serves large numbers of people of a different faith, as many Catholic hospitals, universities and social service agencies do.”

Scientists Baffled Over Remains of Dead Whales in the Desert

The Daily Mail wrote on November 21:

“… scientists remain baffled as to how exactly scores of whales ended up in a desert more than half a mile from the sea. The skeletons of 75 whales, believed to be more than two millions years old, were unearthed next to one another, just yards apart, in one of the world’s best-preserved graveyards of prehistoric whales… Chilean scientists and researchers from the Smithsonian Institution are studying how the whales, many of them the size of buses, were found in exactly the same corner of the Atacama Desert in Chile.

“The bones were unearthed near Caldera in June 2010 during a highway-widening project… ‘I think they died more or less at the same time,’ Nicholas Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, told the Associated Press… The researchers also discovered a sperm whale skeleton and remains of a now-extinct dolphin that had two walrus-like tusks and previously had only turned up in Peru… Other unusual creatures found in the fossil-rich Atacama Desert include an extinct aquatic sloth and a seabird with a five metre wingspan…”

When one believes the Bible, the sudden death of these animals should not surprise us. The Daily Mail published the following note by one of their readers: “Where does the evidence lead? The evidence is that these creatures lived in the sea, yet some major catastrophe has managed to bury 75 whales in the what is now desert. That means the sea once came over this part of the world. How high would the sea level be on a global scale at that point? Many who are anti the Bible and against a global flood might not like it, but this evidence is strongly in favour of such an event….”

If the fossils are as old as stated in the article, then, of course, Noah’s Flood could not be responsible, but we should not forget that prior to the creation of man, the surface of the earth was covered with water (Genesis 1:2). This was the result of an earlier worldwide catastrophe. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution—A Fairy Tales for Adults.” 

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on YouTube and on our Web site (www.standingwatch.org), titled, “How Real Is Your Thankfulness?” When Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day this year on November 24, 2011, are they mindful of Abraham Lincoln’s prophetic words during his proclamation on October 3, 1863? In referring to God’s blessings, he spoke of “the precious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” How thankful are we when we are punished for our sins, or when God is allowing trials to test our patience?

A new German AufPostenStehen program was posted on YouTube and on our German Web site (www.aufpostenstehen.de), titled, “Deutsch-Britischer Zank und Streit” (“German-British Quarrel and Fight”).

A new German sermon was posted on YouTube, titled, “Die Verdammnis der Ungerechten” (“The Condemnation of the Unjust”). This sermon deals primarily with the third resurrection and the unpardonable sin.

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

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